New Governance in the European Union: A Theoretical Perspective



New modes of governance based on voluntary performance standards, rather than compulsory regulation, have gained salience in the European Union (EU). Can these new modes of governance offer a credible solution to the current challenges faced by EU policy-making? In this article, we assess the potential of new governance in the light of the theory of democratic experimentalism. This theoretical perspective suggests, first, that co-ordination by voluntary performance standards can lead to more effective rules and more opportunities for political participation; second, that the scope of this mode of governance in the EU is not confined to cases which are explicitly flagged as new governance; and third, that one of the main problems is how a voluntary mode of governance can coexist with compulsory regulation.